Every neighborhood needs someone like Mert Fırat
Actor, player, screenwriter and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador Murat Fırat recently delivered a speech at an event organized by the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGİDER).
At the event I asked him questions and he responded. But two hours was not enough for him to talk about his projects.
We started off by talking about the project called the “Map of Needs.”
Fırat first met with NGOs in Ankara when he worked with the Halkevleri (People’s Houses) at the age of 12 to help people in need.
“We were performing plays and at the same time working out in the field to help people. I would go to places that everyone else avoided,” he said, noting that his father is from Antakya so he had experience of people with different ethnic backgrounds living in harmony.
Over the years Fırat’s path has crossed with several NGOs operating in Turkey such as the Mother-Child Education Foundation (AÇEV) and Mor Çatı (Purple Roof).
“A person should spend 30 percent of his life for charity works,” he said.
‘Map of Needs’
I previously wrote about the “Map of Needs,” which is a platform with a superb technological infrastructure that serves as a meeting place for people in need and people who want to respond to their plight.
According to Fırat, the total value of needs that have met up to now through this platform, which has 70,000 members, has reached 10 million liras. A total of 350 NGOs are carrying out their projects via the “Map of Needs.”
Fırat said his new favorite project is called “Life,” coordinated by the UNDP, which provides cooking lessons to young Syrian and Turkish women to help them earn a living.
Another project that Fırat is involved is the production of “The Suppliants,” written by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus. The UNDP and a number of private companies support this project.
The play dramatizes the story of 50 brave women and it is a strong statement about “gender equality.”
Since becoming UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, Fırat has chosen to focus on five of the 17 sustainable development goals set by the United Nations: Gender equality, girls’ education, climate change, local development and clean energy. Indeed, many of the projects he works on are related to arts and migrants.
In our conversation, Fırat likened women to “dual-core computers.”
“Women have multiple intelligences and they have multiple thinking and multiple management abilities,” he said to cheers from women entrepreneurs in the room.
Speaking of entrepreneurs, Fırat himself is an entrepreneur.
Among his ventures are Kutu Film, Das Das in Istanbul’s Ataşehir district that combines theater, music and dining experiences, Moda Sahnesi, and Sanat Mahal in the northwestern province of Bursa.
After the two-hour event at KAGİDER, while Fırat was busy having selfies taken with women entrepreneurs, I wished that he - who puts the elements of social good and social benefit into every project he works on - could be cloned so that every neighborhood in the country could have someone like him.